Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science


Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication

First Advisor

Eric A. Abbott


Virtual world technology in higher education captured the popular imagination with promises of engagement and economy. This work considers a large public institution which did not mandate the adoption of Second Life or other virtual worlds. A qualitative case study primarily focused on in-depth elite interviews and archival documents is used to describe individual decision making processes, the state of the innovation within the institution, and the institution's influence on the broader debate on virtual worlds in the collegiate setting. Using Rogers' assertion that relative advantage is the most important factor in organizational adoption, three pedagogical motives of richness of content, complexity of student response, and cost savings are identified in literature, conversations with university personnel, and by their subsequent discussion at presentations, panels, and symposia. Each of the three motives has an alternative understanding. Graphical richness is balanced against the difficulty of creating the environments. Student response is balanced against technical hurdles, and cost is balanced against the potential for institutional legal liability. Of key importance to the diffusion process was the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, whose graduate students and alumni work in many departments around campus and have helped them adapt the technology to educational contexts. The thesis contains descriptions of those contexts as well as directions for future research.


Copyright Owner

Samuel Sevidal Berbano



Date Available


File Format


File Size

127 pages

Included in

Communication Commons